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Mourning Poems

Table of Contents

  1. To the Mourner by Hannah Flagg Gould
  2. The Weeper by Hannah Flagg Gould
  3. Man Was Made to Mourn: A Dirge by Robert Burns
  4. A Sister's Love by Kate Slaughter McKinney
  5. Drouth by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  6. Tears and Kisses by Georgia Douglas Johnson
  7. Tears, Idle Tears by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  8. Blessed Are They That Mourn by William Cullen Bryant

  1. To the Mourner

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    We would not check the starting tear,
    Nor bid thee cease to mourn
    The friend thy bosom held most dear
    So early from thee torn;
    For, when in death a loved one slept,
    Among the sorrowing, "Jesus wept!"

    But has not Jesus passed the tomb,
    To break its bars away?
    And, darting through its fearful gloom
    The beams of endless day,
    Does he not, from the other side,
    Bid none to fear, since he has died.

    And, mourner, will not sighing cease,
    When thou canst look above,
    And feel that, from a world of peace,
    Thou hast an angel's love?
    That she is safe, where none may fear
    Death, pain, or change that wound us here?

    When he, who wept at human wo,
    Shall in the clouds appear,
    Awaking millions then shall know,
    To those who owned him here,
    He is the resurrection!—he,
    Life, light and immortality!

  2. The Weeper

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Saw ye the mourner reclining
    Where the damp earth was her bed,
    And the young ivy-vines, twining,
    Mantled the house of the dead?

    Heard ye the voice of the weeper
    Rise with the herald of day,
    Calling aloud to the sleeper,
    Bidding him hasten away?

    Felt ye her wild notes of sorrow
    Thrilling your bosom with pain?
    Dark is the wanderer's morrow—
    So she must slumber again!

    Dim is her glimmering taper;
    Fast she is sinking to rest;
    Soon shall the evening vapor
    Gather unfelt, o'er her breast.

    Sorrow too long has been wearing
    String after string from her heart;
    Now, her own finger is bearing
    On the last thread that can part!

    Cold was the draught she has tasted;
    Pale are the lips it has passed;
    Now, every sand-grain is wasted;
    Death has released her at last!

    She, who so lately was weeping,
    Wounded, despairing and lost,
    At rest is now quietly sleeping!
    Life's troubled waters are crossed!

  3. Man Was Made to Mourn: A Dirge

    Man's inhumanity to man
    Makes countless thousands mourn!

    – Robert Burns
    Man Was Made to Mourn: A Dirge
    by Robert Burns

    When chill November's surly blast
    Made fields and forests bare,
    One ev'ning, as I wander'd forth
    Along the banks of Ayr,
    I spied a man, whose aged step
    Seem'd weary, worn with care;
    His face furrow'd o'er with years,
    And hoary was his hair.

    "Young stranger, whither wand'rest thou?"
    Began the rev'rend sage;
    "Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain,
    Or youthful pleasure's rage?
    Or haply, prest with cares and woes,
    Too soon thou hast began
    To wander forth, with me to mourn
    The miseries of man.

    "The sun that overhangs yon moors,
    Out-spreading far and wide,
    Where hundreds labour to support
    A haughty lordling's pride;—
    I've seen yon weary winter-sun
    Twice forty times return;
    And ev'ry time has added proofs,
    That man was made to mourn.

    "O man! while in thy early years,
    How prodigal of time!
    Mis-spending all thy precious hours—
    Thy glorious, youthful prime!
    Alternate follies take the sway;
    Licentious passions burn;
    Which tenfold force gives Nature's law.
    That man was made to mourn.

    "Look not alone on youthful prime,
    Or manhood's active might;
    Man then is useful to his kind,
    Supported in his right:
    But see him on the edge of life,
    With cares and sorrows worn;
    Then Age and Want—oh! ill-match'd pair—
    Shew man was made to mourn.

    "A few seem favourites of fate,
    In pleasure's lap carest;
    Yet, think not all the rich and great
    Are likewise truly blest:
    But oh! what crowds in ev'ry land,
    All wretched and forlorn,
    Thro' weary life this lesson learn,
    That man was made to mourn.

    "Many and sharp the num'rous ills
    Inwoven with our frame!
    More pointed still we make ourselves,
    Regret, remorse, and shame!
    And man, whose heav'n-erected face
    The smiles of love adorn, —
    Man's inhumanity to man
    Makes countless thousands mourn!

    "See yonder poor, o'erlabour'd wight,
    So abject, mean, and vile,
    Who begs a brother of the earth
    To give him leave to toil;
    And see his lordly fellow-worm
    The poor petition spurn,
    Unmindful, tho' a weeping wife
    And helpless offspring mourn.

    "If I'm design'd yon lordling's slave,
    By Nature's law design'd,
    Why was an independent wish
    E'er planted in my mind?
    If not, why am I subject to
    His cruelty, or scorn?
    Or why has man the will and pow'r
    To make his fellow mourn?

    "Yet, let not this too much, my son,
    Disturb thy youthful breast:
    This partial view of human-kind
    Is surely not the last!
    The poor, oppressed, honest man
    Had never, sure, been born,
    Had there not been some recompense
    To comfort those that mourn!

    "O Death! the poor man's dearest friend,
    The kindest and the best!
    Welcome the hour my aged limbs
    Are laid with thee at rest!
    The great, the wealthy fear thy blow
    From pomp and pleasure torn;
    But, oh! a blest relief for those
    That weary-laden mourn!"

  4. A Sister's Love

    by Kate Slaughter McKinney

    She knelt beside her brother’s grave,
    The day was near its close;
    And where the cool, tall grasses wave,
    She lay a fresh-cut rose.
    Then, from a silver waiter near,
    She drew a wreath of white,
    Besprinkled with the twilight’s tear,
    O’ershaded with the night,
    And placed them on the green-kept mound.
    I watched her kneeling there,
    Her face bent on the sacred ground,
    In attitude of prayer;
    And while a bird sang soft his hymn,
    Down-looking from above,
    We saw unveiled a picture dim—
    A statue true of love.

  5. Response

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    Why do we pity those who weep? The pain
    That finds a ready outlet in the flow
    Of salt and bitter tears is blessed woe,
    And does not need our sympathies. The rain
    But fits the shorn field for new yield of grain;
    While the red brazen skies, the sun's fierce glow,
    The dry, hot winds that from the tropics blow
    Do parch and wither the unsheltered plain.
    The anguish that through long, remorseless years
    Looks out upon the world with no relief,
    Of sudden tempests or slow-dripping tears,—
    The still, unuttered, silent, wordless grief
    That evermore doth ache, and ache, and ache,—
    This is the sorrow wherewith hearts do break.

  6. Tears and Kisses

    by Georgia Douglas Johnson

    There are tears sweet, refreshing like dewdrops that rise,
    There are tears far too deep for the lakes of the eyes.

    There are kisses like thistledown, fitfully sped,
    There are kisses that live in the hearts of the dead.

  7. Tears, Idle Tears

    by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
    Tears from the depth of some divine despair
    Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
    In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
    And thinking of the days that are no more.

    Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
    That brings our friends up from the underworld,
    Sad as the last which reddens over one
    That sinks with all we love below the verge;
    So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

    Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
    The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds
    To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
    The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
    So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

    Dear as remember'd kisses after death,
    And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign'd
    On lips that are for others; deep as love,
    Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
    O Death in Life, the days that are no more!

  8. Blessed are They That Mourn

    by William Cullen Bryant

    Oh, deem not they are blest alone
    Whose lives a peaceful tenour keep;
    The Power who pities man, has shown
    A blessing for the eyes that weep.

    The light of smiles shall fill again
    The lids that overflow with tears;
    And weary hours of wo and pain
    Are promises of happier years.

    There is a day of sunny rest
    For every dark and troubled night;
    And grief may bide, an evening guest,
    But joy shall come with early light.

    And thou, who, o'er thy friend's low bier,
    Sheddest the bitter drops like rain,
    Hope that a brighter, happier sphere,
    Will give him to thy arms again.

    Nor let the good man's trust depart,
    Though life its common gifts deny,
    Though with a pierced and broken heart,
    And spurned of men, he goes to die.

    For God has marked each sorrowing day
    And numbered every secret tear,
    And heaven's long age of bliss shall pay
    For all his children suffer here.

    Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

    – Matthew 5:4
    The Bible, KJV

    Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

    – Psalm 30:5
    The Bible, KJV

    Laugh, and the world laughs with you,
    Weep, and you weep alone;
    For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
    But has trouble enough of its own.

    – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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